Top 10 strikers in the world this season (2020/21)

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Sai Teja

Europe's top five leagues are blessed with some of the most dangerous forwards in the world. There are hosts of brilliant goalscorers, such as the likes of Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema of LaLiga Santander, Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane of the Premier League, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr in Ligue 1, among others.

However, the centre-forward of a side is often viewed as the primary source of goals, with the exception of a few like Roberto Firmino, who specialises in other departments such as dropping deeper and linking up play.

Several central strikers have set Europe ablaze with their phenomenal displays and scoring feats this season. In fact, there have been a total of 19 players to have scored 15 league goals or more in Europe's top five divisions, out of which all but four (Bruno Fernandes, Salah, Messi, Mbappe) are centre-forwards.

On that note, here is a look at some of the look at the ten best strikers of the 2020/21 campaign so far.

Note: Only players who have played more than half of their games as a centre-forward will be considered for this list.

#10 Gerard Moreno | Villarreal

Athletic Club v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander
Athletic Club v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander

Villarreal academy product Gerard Moreno kicks off the list in tenth place amidst an impressive campaign with Unai Emery's side. The Spaniard, who was awarded the Zarra Trophy in 2019/20 after his 18-goal season, has picked up right where he left off last year. Moreno has been fantastic since his return to the club from Espanyol and rightfully earned his place in Luis Enrique's Spanish side as well.

The 28-year-old has appeared 18 times as his side's main centre-forward this season, during which he's scored 13 goals and set up a further five. Overall, Moreno's 24 LaLiga appearances have yielded a total of 19 goals and four assists, and he also has four goals and three assists to his name in the UEFA Europa League for the Yellow Submarine.

His ability on the ball has been a superb asset for Villarreal and has allowed him to play in other positions as well. Moreno ranks in the 98th percentile among forwards in Europe for dribbles completed with 2.69 per 90. The forward will have a monumental role to play for his side as they are set to resume their Europa League campaign shortly.

#9 Luis Muriel | Atalanta

Atalanta BC v Spezia Calcio - Serie A
Atalanta BC v Spezia Calcio - Serie A

Colombian star Luis Muriel was never particularly the most prolific striker during his stay in Europe before moving to Bergamo. His highest goal return during a single season stands at 11, a figure he achieved on two separate occasions — for Udinese in 2013 and Sampdoria in 2017.

Since his move to Atalanta, however, it's been a whole different story for Muriel. The 29-year-old has largely been used as a game-changer off the bench for much of his time under Gian Piero Gasperini and he has repaid the manager's faith in him and some more. After smashing 18 league goals last season in just ten starts (24 sub appearances), Muriel has already leveled his tally from last year with a further seven assists despite having nine games left to play.

The South American ranks in the 99th percentile in Europe over the last year for non-penalty goals per 90 (1.24), touches in the penalty area per 90 (8.60), 98th for shots attempted (4.82) per 90 and shot-creating actions (5.39). Muriel's impressive free-kick against Real Madrid in their UCL clash also suggests that he has more to his game than what meets the eye.

#8 Andre Silva | Eintracht Frankfurt

Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga

Portuguese forward Andre Silva has been one of the breakout stars in Europe this season and most certainly one of the more surprising names on this list. The former FC Porto man was once famously tipped to be Cristiano Ronaldo's heir for the Seleção by the five-time Ballon d'Or winner himself, but things hadn't panned out as well as he'd have hoped.

Silva's fortunes have changed dramatically since his move to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he's established himself as one of the most in-form centre-forwards in Europe at the moment. Since his move, Silva has gone on to score a whopping 22 league goals in 25 appearances for Die Adler in 2020/21 along with three assists. The 25-year-old is currently the fourth-highest scorer in Europe in terms of league goals.

With 0.71 non-penalty goals per 90, the Portuguese ranks in the 96th percentile for forwards in Europe over the last year. AC Milan took a massive hit on the €38m transfer fee they paid for him when they sold Silva for just €9m, and could live to regret that decision if he continues to score at such a phenomenal rate.

Also read: Most expensive footballers in the world in each position

#7 Luis Suarez | Atletico Madrid

Cadiz CF v Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander
Cadiz CF v Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander

South American veteran Luis Suarez is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and defining strikers of his generation. He is currently one of the highest active goalscorers in the top five leagues and is part of a select few to have breached the 500-goal barrier. However, the 33-year-old was unceremoniously pushed towards the exit at Barcelona, paving the way for a transfer to Atletico Madrid.

The move to the Spanish capital proved to be a blessing for the striker and Diego Simeone as Suarez has led Atleti's charge for their first LaLiga title in seven years. The ex-Blaugrana star has smashed 19 goals in his 25 starts for Los Rojoblancos this season, including a brilliant and decisive goal against rivals Real Madrid in the derby. Suarez didn't manage to score a single goal in Europe, but his impact in the Spanish top-flight has been remarkable.

It would be poetic for Suarez to lead one of his former club's rivals to the title after having claimed to be 'disrespected' by them prior to his exit. With eight games to go in LaLiga, El Pistolero could still have an influential role to play for Simeone's side in terms of the title race.

#6 Erling Haaland | Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund v Sevilla FC - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg Two
Borussia Dortmund v Sevilla FC - UEFA Champions League Round Of 16 Leg Two

Erling Haaland is, undisputedly, the most in-demand player in world football at the moment. The Norwegian superstar has been simply sensational in every way and, regardless of the opposition or the competition, he has managed to find the back of the net time after time.

Haaland has only played a total of 51 competitive games for Borussia Dortmund since moving midway through last season from RB Salzburg. During this period, he's scored a staggering 49 goals and set up a further 12 for his teammates. These aren't figures one would expect from a 20-year-old who isn't named Lionel Messi. The former FK Molde star has scored 21 times in 22 Bundesliga games and a tournament-high ten times in the UEFA Champions League this season.

The Dortmund striker's 0.98 non-penalty goals per 90 places him in the 98th percentile for forwards across Europe and is currently the fifth leading scorer across the top five leagues this season. Given that Haaland is this good at just 20 years of age, it isn't hard to see why European giants Real Madrid, Barcelona, and other clubs have Mino Raiola on speed-dial ahead of the summer window.

#5 Karim Benzema | Real Madrid

Deportivo Alavés v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander nter caption Juventus v Udinese Calcio - Serie A
Deportivo Alavés v Real Madrid - La Liga Santander nter caption Juventus v Udinese Calcio - Serie A

Real Madrid legend Karim Benzema has firmly established himself as his side's go-to man since Cristiano Ronaldo's exit and hasn't looked back since. The French striker's overall game has been on a different level to that of most centre-forwards since last year. He fired Los Blancos to the title in 2019/20 and, subsequently, Benzema became the first player apart from Ronaldo and Messi to win the Alfredo Di Stefano (best player in LaLiga) award since Raul Gonzalez.

This season has been no different as Benzema has kept Real Madrid's LaLiga and Champions League campaigns alive with crucial goals, such as his 88th-minute equaliser against Atletico Madrid. The 33-year-old is the Blancos' highest goalscorer with 24 goals (18 in LaLiga), with their next-highest scorer, Casemiro, notching just a quarter of his overall tally. He spared Real Madrid from an embarrassing group-stage UCL elimination with a season-defining brace against Borussia Monchengladbach and scored in the quarter-finals as well.

The Blancos veteran ranks in the 93rd and 95th percentiles respectively for non-penalty goals (0.68) and touches in the box (7.46) per 90 in Europe. Benzema hasn't scored as many as some others on this list, but the value of the ones he's struck are worth more than most — and could still potentially lead his side to domestic and European glory.

#4 Cristiano Ronaldo | Juventus

FC Barcelona v Juventus: Group G - UEFA Champions League
FC Barcelona v Juventus: Group G - UEFA Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to shatter scoring records in Europe even at the age of 36. The Juventus superstar may have suffered a heartbreaking exit from the UCL with Juventus, but on a personal note, it has been yet another incredible campaign for him in terms of end product. The Portuguese icon has been in stellar form this season and became the all-time highest goalscorer for club and country in January, surpassing Josef Bican.

Despite being sidelined for a brief period after testing positive for COVID-19, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner currently leads the scoring charts in Italy with 25 goals in just 26 appearances — four more than next-highest scorer Romelu Lukaku, who played two games more. 2020/21 is the 15th successive campaign during which Ronaldo has surpassed 20 goals for club and country and holds the record for most braces in Europe this season with eight across all competitions.

Among forwards in Europe, Ronaldo ranks in the 99th (!) percentile for shots (5.54), 93rd for shot-creating actions (3.94) and 92nd for goals (0.62) per 90. After losing out on the coveted Capocannoniere last season to Ciro Immobile, Ronaldo could potentially win his first Golden Boot since the 2014/15 campaign this year.

Also read: 5 Transfers that dramatically changed the fortunes of a club

#3 Romelu Lukaku | Internazionale

FC Internazionale v FC Crotone - Serie A
FC Internazionale v FC Crotone - Serie A

Much was expected of Romelu Lukaku when Manchester United made him the most expensive centre-forward in Premier League history in 2017 after completing a £75m move. However, after 42 goals and 13 assists in 96 games, the Belgian was eventually offloaded to Internazionale for £73m, where he is en route to becoming one of their best signings of the century.

Lukaku's first campaign at San Siro saw him score a total of 34 goals across 51 games in all competitions for the Nerazzurri, becoming the first Inter player to do so since the great Ronaldo Nazario in 1997/98. Lukaku has found a few more gears this year as he's smashed a whopping 26 goals in just 35 appearances along with nine assists. He has also dethroned Cristiano Ronaldo as the most valuable player in the Italian top-flight.

The towering Belgian looks fitter, sharper, and is undoubtedly in the best form of his career. He tops the charts for goals, assists, shot-creating actions, big chances created, and a host of other metrics for Inter, who are currently 11 points clear at the top of the table with Lukaku as their spearhead.

Antonio Conte famously revealed in 2020 that he 'very strongly' wanted to work with Lukaku while the Italian was at Chelsea and Juventus, and it isn't difficult to see why. The striker has arguably been the best player in all of Serie A this year and is on his way to firing Inter to their first Scudetti in over a decade.

#2 Harry Kane | Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Premier League

Harry Kane's ability to find the back of the net was never in question. In fact, over the last six years, Kane has scored 20 goals or more in four seasons, winning two Premier League Golden Boots in the process. While he has generally been more multi-faceted than most of his peers, this season, he's made a case for being the most well-rounded forward in Europe.

After falling short of the 20-goal mark for two successive campaigns, Kane has returned to his terrifying best this season. The English captain is already at 19 Premier League goals so far and, with eight games to go, he could potentially go on to win a third Golden Boot. He is just a goal away from surpassing Robbie Fowler's tally in England (163), which will make him the seventh-highest scorer in Premier League history.

However, what makes this season even more special for Kane is that he could also end up as the highest assist-provider in the division as he leads the charts with 13, two more than anyone else in England. The 27-year-old ranks in the 96th percentile in Europe for assists per 90 with 0.36 and 93rd for progressive carries, highlighting his ability to drive the ball forward and set his teammates up.

The Tottenham Hotspur legend could potentially become the first player to hit 20 league goals and assists in the same season since Thierry Henry, who achieved this feat in 2002/03 and won the PFA Player of the Year. Kane has been simply sensational this season and there is no denying that he is one of the best players in world football, let alone one of the best forwards.

#1 Robert Lewandowski | Bayern Munich

FC Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga
FC Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga

On 3 June 1972, Bayern Munich legend Gerd Muller created history by scoring his record 40th Bundesliga goal of the season against Eintracht. Die Adler's then-coach Erich Ribbeck was in awe of the German and famously said that he 'would trade two Beckenbauers for one Muller' as the striker etched his name into German football history.

49 years later, Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski finds himself just five goals away from breaking Der Bomber's historic record with seven games to go.

Lewandowski has never been a stranger to astounding goalscoring feats throughout his storied career. Last season, he registered his career-best figures as he scored 55 goals across all competitions, including 34 in 31 Bundesliga appearances. This season, however, the Pole has shown that despite his heroics in the past, he is still capable of outdoing himself.

In his 25 appearances so far in the Bundesliga, Lewandowski has amassed 35 goals along with six assists. Thirty-five goals. For further context on this astonishing goal return, the closest player to him in Europe is Ronaldo, who scored ten fewer than Lewandowski and played one game more.

Lewandowski has scored more than once in a match in eight league games this year, including two hat-tricks and a stunning four-goal haul. The 32-year-old's 1.02 non-penalty goals per 90 puts him in the 99th (!) percentile, along with 97th for shots per 90 (4.15) for forwards in Europe.

As far as pure number nines are concerned, not a single striker on the planet is on the same level as Robert Lewandowski at the moment. He is in a league of his own and takes the top spot on our list of centre-forwards.

Also read: 5 Greatest players to never win the Premier League title

Edited by Sai Teja
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